Cross-compliance is a mechanism that links direct payments to compliance by farmers with basic standards concerning the environment, food safety, animal and plant health and animal welfare, as well as the requirement of maintaining land in good agricultural and environmental condition.
Since 2005, all farmers receiving direct payments are subject to compulsory cross-compliance.
Cross-compliance includes two elements:
- Statutory Management Requirements: These requirements refer to 18 legislative standards in the field of the environment, food safety, animal and plant health and animal welfare.
- Good agricultural and environmental condition: The obligation of keeping land in good agricultural and environmental condition refers to a range of standards related to soil protection, maintenance of soil organic matter and structure, avoiding the deterioration of habitats, and water management.
Cross-compliance represents the "baseline" or "reference level" for agri-environment measures. For all requirements falling under cross-compliance, the compliance costs have to be born by farmers ("Polluter-Pays-Principle").
Cross-compliance is an important tool for integrating environmental requirements into the Common Agricultural Policy. Cross-compliance ensures that support granted under the Common Agricultural Policy contributes to promoting sustainable agriculture and, thereby, responds positively to concerns of citizens at large.
The mechanism of cross-compliance creates synergies between CAP payments and the need to ensure compliance with basic mandatory standards.
For the programming period 2007-2013, cross-compliance also applies to most environmental payments forming part of Rural Development policy, and as from 2008 it applies also for certain wine payments.